On Christmas Eve 2002 New Phoebe House Association opened its doors to homeless mothers and their children after months of being closed, weeks of volunteers working to save the facility and program, and hours of selfless dedication to ensure New Phoebe House would stay in Pierce County indefinitely.
Phoebe House, as it was called before our December 2002 reopening, was founded in 1989. For more than a decade the program provided emergency shelter and innovative programs to address the needs of homeless women and their children in Pierce County. By May 2002, buried under massive debt with no avenues to sufficient funding, Phoebe House was forced to evict its residents and close its doors.
The Phoebe House property on Martin Luther King Way Junior Way fell into foreclosure and was deeded to Tacoma Community Development Authority.
At that time, programs addressing the needs of homeless mothers and children in Tacoma were few. The Board of Directors understood the loss of Phoebe House was a huge detriment to the community. Fall of 2002, the Board of Directors recognized the agency was hopelessly insolvent and initially voted to dissolve the non-profit. A small, dedicated group of volunteers who also served on the Board were determined to change the course for Phoebe House. After weeks of strategizing internally, meeting with community partners, and convincing funders their money would be diligently managed and well spent, Phoebe House rose again under the name New Phoebe House Association.
As a new 501(3)c nonprofit, the Board of New Phoebe House was more determined than ever to reopen – starting with leasing back the MLK Way Junior property. With barely enough funds to operate for six months, New Phoebe House opened once again on Christmas Eve 2002. Within a year, New Phoebe House had served more than 40 women. As the program proved its solvency, former funders returned, and new ones joined efforts. The transformation was honored in 2004 with a City of Destiny Award from then Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma for making ‘outstanding volunteer contributions to the community.’
For several years NPH was run by the Board, volunteers, and a part-time Executive Director. In 2009 an experienced, full-time ED was hired to lead the agency, stabilize programs, and expand fundraising efforts. Since then, New Phoebe House has had very small turnover in the role of Executive Director. Our current ED, Lisa Talbott, is just the third person in the position in nearly 20 years – a testament to the commitment of our leadership.
Other milestones for NPH include assuming the property loan for the house in 2014. Two years later, the duplex next door was purchased to accommodate additional residents and house the administration offices.
For nearly twenty years, NPH has focused on providing housing, services, treatment, and support to Pierce County mothers and their children impacted by chemical dependency. These efforts include assisting our residents reach reunification with their children through healing, self-sufficiency, and clean & sober living. In more recent years, we have expanded our programs to meet the changing needs of our residents with in-house mental health care, teaching parenting and life skills and assisting our residents with employment readiness.